Lightroom 3.2 and the M8’s high-ISO noise

The Leica M8 has always had a reputation of being rather bad noise-wise at its higher ISO settings of 1250 and 2500. At least that’s what its opponents claimed – especially those with a Canon full-frame DSLR background. On the other hand, especially in black and white, the M8’s JPEG output has a very film-like look to it, and isn’t actually worse than what you get with 35mm film rated at ISO 400 or higher.

Yet with modern image processing software, noise isn’t really an issue anymore. Even if your RAW processing software has no sophisticated noise reduction routines, there are plug-ins and stand-alone solutions available that do a very good job – Neat Image for example. And with the latest iteration of their highly acclaimed RAW workflow software Lighroom, in version 3.2 Adobe have managed to improve the already solid noise reduction routines of the previous version even further, to a point where a dedicated plug-in becomes superfluous.

The following image has been shot in our rather dimly lit living room at ISO 2500, the exposure time was 1/30 second and the aperture was wide open at f/2. Still, the image turned out slightly underexposed, so I head to tweak the curves a bit to make it look fine. In my opinion, Lightroom 3.2 did an exceptionally good job here, finding a decent compromise between noise reduction and detail retention – the resulting image I got with Neat Image was actually not better! But judge for yourself! (Click the image for a larger 1000px version.)

Leica M8 + Biogon 35/2 @ f/2, 1/30, ISO 2500 | Processed in Lightroom 3.2

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